Saturday, 23 July 2011
Polish Shop in W. London (published in "Daily Mail")
To the Editor of "Daily Mail"
Your page 2 headline on 23rd July - "Poles are sending home £3bn a year - and we pay them £4.5m a week in benefits" is misleading to your readers because it confronts an official Polish statistic with a vague estimate of those unemployed.
While Polish estimates on the amount of funds transferred to Poland are undoubtedly accurate, Polish records on the number of Poles unemployed in the UK is based on secondary less reliable evidence and certainly does not indicate how many Poles are receiving job seekers allowance in the UK. Let us remember that any UK benefit, other than child benefit, will only be paid to EU citizens that have already worked in this country and can prove their "Habitual Residence" in the UK.
In fact the article shows only part of the picture with regard to the Polish population in this country. Let us remember that hard-working Polish families pay income tax, council tax and national insurance in this country. In my 2008 report to Parliament I recorded that "according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research the Polish workforce contributed £12bn to the British economy in the years 2004 to 2006". I also estimated that Poles had contributed £1.9bn a year to the British exchequer. I see no reason why those figures should be different today,
At a time when Britain's population is rightly acutely concerned over the future for their jobs and their families' prosperity, it is important that their frustration and anger is not channeled against blameless victims by misleading statistics. Under the UK's international treaty obligations Poles in this country are doing nothing illegal by working here, paying taxes here and supporting their poorer relatives back home. They may be Polish citizens but they are also British taxpayers who share the pain and burden of the present UK economy with their British and other EU citizens in this country,
Bohdan (first on left) with members of St John's Ambulance Branch which he founded
I was shocked to hear of the death on July 17th this year of Polish community leader Bohdan Mordas. He was a long term member of the parish committee for the Polish church in Ealing and played an important role in the acquisition of the present church in Windsor Road in 1985 and in gaining planning permission for it from a then reluctant Ealing Council.
He was active in setting up the highly successful Polish St John Ambulance Division in Ealing, was responsible for many years for running the Courtfield Luncheon Club, chaired the Polish Housing Association in Ealing for many years and was a trustee of the Polish Cultural Foundation and as such initiated the Polish editions of "Ealing Gazette" which appeared in 2008.
He was also a long term member of the Ealing Council Steering Committee on twinning with Bielany.
He was one of the heroes of my book "Hello, I'm your Polish Neighbour". A true gentleman, always quiet spoken, polite and constructive, his calm outward demeanour hid a devoted passionate and very hard working community organizer who served the people of Ealing as well as the wider Polish community in London.
I cherish his memory as a great Pole, a lover of humanity and a great friend.